All Agilitied Out

Certainly a very successful weekend for the Brightness, she ended up going 7 for 8. The NQ was pretty silly, on a straight-line go-on she suddenly veers into me and spontaneously threadles instead of taking the jump in front of her. Can’t complain though, she did fabulous and had a great time, she just loves trialing these days. Even with children around! Double Q #18 today, she’s getting closer. Her weakness is her dogwalk, but that’s not unexpected. We will work on it, but it will never be solid, stopped or running. What they learn first, they learn best, and she learned to do the dogwalk without criteria – and that is what she has.

Now, Navarre’s dogwalk looked fabulous! We really haven’t played around much with exits in trials, I’ve stuck mostly to the plan of letting him run if it’s a straight exit, stopping him with a turn. There were some turns I let him run this weekend and he nailed them all – superstar! He also went 4 for 4 in the weave department today. May have helped that in two of those the course went ‘jump-weave’, so not much speed and momentum at that point. He was trying really hard, someday weaves will be second nature to him – but that day is not now. He’s still figuring this agility thing out, but having a lot of fun in the process. More confident these days, but still asking a lot of questions. He ended up going 2 out of 4 today, and 4 out of 8 for the weekend – and lots of good stuff. We had a ton of fun together and every run teaches me something new.

Courses were really fun this weekend, every one of them had something that I wanted to try and they all flowed really nicely if handled well. But even with having a great weekend and fun courses with a nice 1-judge schedule – three days of agility is too much, we’re staying home tomorrow. I very much enjoyed all my runs today, but I’m ‘full’, we’re ready for a break, stay at home, put up the tree, avoid the traffic and finally give Haku something more interesting to do.

Oh, I did find something that Navarre missed when socializing as a puppy – big bushy hippy beards. He’s seen hipster beards, but the crazy voluminous white beards of the old Eugene hippy guys freaked Navarre out. Lots of public at this trial, and one very nice guy came over to say hello to Navarre and he flipped his shit. And, of course, right as we’re going into the ring, so he was sure those beards were coming to get him – that run did not go super well. Who knew?

As for future agility plans, that’s still up in the air at the moment. Right now I’m all agilitied out, but there is the New Years trial, which for some reason I think WON’T be super cold because it’s mostly in DECEMBER as opposed to January. You know, by one day. I’m not sure though, and the UKI trial in January could be fun, but a break is good too. Hmmm …

Mission Accomplished

Bright finished up her national requirements in style down in Eugene today, she went 4 for 4 again. That more than covers her point requirement so we are officially nationals bound in March. She also got double Q #17, so she may finally get her MACH one of these days. Bright getting a MACH is not really all that exciting, as agility has never been hard with her (well, okay, when she went ‘crazy’ after her spay she was not exactly easy …). When London got his MACH that was an ACHIEVEMENT, Bright getting her MACH is pretty much expected, with most people like, ‘What took you so long?’

Still, she’ll always be my little champion, things are definitely feeling easy again. It would be nice if she could stay this way until March. We shall see. We’ll PROBABLY be breaking from agility in January, what with the winter forecast being similar to last year’s SNOWMAGEDDON – wiser just to take a break and not lose a bunch of entry fees again.

Also exciting, Navarre was not being NEARLY as big of a goober this weekend. We still had some weave issues, but not weave explosions. And in fact I was happy to see he’s finally started to compromise in his weaves – he can both single and double step depending on what he feels like doing (which I don’t think is helpful at all), but today he finally started finally a middle ground with a little half step move. Haku had to figure out this move as well, it’s not single OR double striding, it’s kind of in the middle. So he went 2 out of 4 today, and lots of great stuff – no ridiculous lack of collection, we were much more of a team out there, very happy with my baby dog. I was KIND of helping in the weaves, but not ridiculously so. When I didn’t really decelerate for an entrance he bounced right off the poles for one set, but got it the second time through without an issue. His worst was in standard, great speed entry, nice through the poles, skipped like pole 9-10 though (second to last obstacle, the rest was lovely!). And he needed two more attempts after that, but finally pulled it together.

I liked Paula’s courses today, almost every run had something that made me wonder what the best way to handle it would be. Both premier and regular standard had dogwalk exits that were best handled downstream, so it was a good test to see how Navarre’s running contacts handled that situation – and he did fabulous! I also kind of assumed that Bright would NOT stop on her contacts if I were really moving away – and she didn’t. But she didn’t leap off either – so good to know. But even with a ‘you wait!’ thrown in – there was no waiting. Bright was ready to GO. So hopefully we can fix some of that tomorrow. Ah, you can be sloppy with a dog like Bright – such a good girl.

With Navarre being way less ridiculously wide than he was last weekend, we had several runs where Bright and Navarre came in 1st and 2nd – but Navarre never beat Bright. Which always surprises people, because Navarre LOOKS much faster, all that flashy movement – but never underestimate efficiency. If it’s flat out forward race, Navarre will win – but put in a couple corners and Bright cleans up. The jumpers course this afternoon though, he came within a half a second, he’s got potential:

Thanks to Heidi for all the great videos today – so fun to watch!

Nationals Bound (probably)

Operation Qualify Bright for Nationals has gone surprisingly well this weekend, Bright ended up going 7 for 8. We now have our double Qs and ended up with around 168 points over the weekend, leaving us with just 32 points left to pick up and three trial days next weekend to do it. I’d like to think that even if we screw up almost everything we can still squeeze that out by the end of the month.

So, yeah, that was unexpected. I think a few things helped us out this weekend, a big one being that Bright only knocked one bar, which definitely helps. I also think my mindset helped, which is normally only half engaged when I’m doing AKC, as I don’t really care about qualifying and the courses often are not very interesting – so I’m sloppy or not really trying. I had my ‘serious agility face’ on, which is an actual thing, when I really am trying to get through something and not ‘let’s try this and see what happens’. We weren’t trying to be the fastest, we took the safest, smoothest path that I thought would be the most successful for us. I’ll admit I often get very ‘experimental’ in AKC, as since the courses aren’t super interesting, I’m going to MAKE it interesting by trying weird things or getting in crosses that really don’t actually make any real difference in how the course runs. So it wasn’t so much ‘trying to qualify’ as it was ‘doing what I know we can do and working every obstacle’. Helped also that the courses were a little funky over the weekend, there were pieces I wanted to get that kept me focused and engaged – my biggest downfall is just ‘assuming’ on straightforward courses.

Another very helpful thing, Bright wasn’t doing any freestyling – if we are going to go to Nationals, this is a good time for her decide we’re a team again. She was being SUCH a good girl, she definitely held up her side of the partnership. Love my tiny Brightness, she just always makes me smile, no matter what she’s doing. She had so much fun this weekend, and I have so much fun hanging out with her.

I deliberately didn’t try to get any video this weekend, I wanted to just focus on the dogs and doing what we needed to do. Carol did very kindly video our standard run today though:

Nice to have the pressure be off for next weekend, and starting to plan for the trip next year. It’s pretty much just a big trial, I have no expectations for Bright to do well, not my goal, but Bright has never gone to a big event – and this is a good excuse to have an extra special roadtrip with my girl. I’ll just be taking Bright and leaving the others behind, we’ll be driving with Mary and I expect to have a total blast. Now that it’s pretty much a reality, I’m excited to start planning our adventure.

Now, Navarre, well, he was the complete opposite of Bright this weekend, total dorkage. He ended up going 2 for 8 this weekend, and those two Qs were in Premier Jumpers of all things. He just couldn’t weave to save his life, and I’m not entirely sure what the issue was. Obviously it could be a physical problem, but he is just moving so smoothly, I don’t think that’s it – though obviously I’ll be watching him. I think it all goes back to his increasing lack of collection, which is him growing up and actually starting to focus on agility, rather than multitasking his way through the course. He doesn’t want to collect, stop on contacts or slow down to weave – it’s a New Navarre and we have work to do.

I ended up walking him off two courses when he couldn’t weave after three attempts. Our last run of the day, jumpers, I stopped dead, waited for him to load, walked next to him for a bit and the ran to get ahead – and he actually got the entry and STAYED IN. We had a little party at the end of the poles and then went on, which caused him to run around a jump, but still a much nicer way to end the weekend – we had a huge party outside with lots of love and frisbee and then took a big run in the field with all the dogs. Hopefully we put some money back into the weaving bank, but I expect this will be an issue next weekend as well.

I do think this answered some questions I was having, like, “How important is that Navarre collects, really?” Yeah, apparently it’s pretty important, and I think it’s all related. He doesn’t need to bend like a rubber band, but he needs to put in the effort, on jumps, on contacts, on weaves. I love his enthusiasm, but he also needs to hold up his side of the bargain here. We will be working on collection, in all things.


Agility photos by Joe Camp

The Tables Have Turned

Day one of Operation Qualify for Nationals with Bright went pretty well. She ended up going 3 out of 4, and if she had to miss one, Premier Standard would have been my choice anyway. We have a lot of premier standard legs, as that is usually in the morning, and then I just never enter premier jumpers because it’s last thing of the day. So, theoretically, that probably gave us a premier ‘double Q’ counting towards nationals. I think. And because she also got a normal double Q, she may have finished up the 2 double Qs she needs for nationals. Maybe. If she does actually qualify, I don’t think I’ll actually know because I’m not really entirely sure of the qualification process.



The bad news is that I usually start slacking off on Day 2, so this is probably the high point of the weekend. I’m really TRYING to just handle every obstacle and do my job so she can do hers. Her weaves and contacts looked great, two stopped dogwalks into a wall today, she was a super star. She knocked a bar in premier standard on a push where she went to the wrong side of a jump after that. But I’m going to take responsibility for that one, I assume I was pushing on her line through there. Courses were very tight and twisty, good for Brightypants.


Now, not so good for Navarre. At least, New Navarre, who is against collecting these days. We started with that twisty premier jumpers course where EVERY jump was a turn, and he collected for NONE of it. And I was standing RIGHT THERE, but he just went, “Wheee!” At least he got his weavepoles for this run, and actually qualified, 2nd place after Bright – more than 2 seconds slower due to all his shenanigans. It was all downhill from there, he couldn’t stay in his weaves, he was launching everywhere, not stopping on his contacts, including the teeter which he’s always been really good at … I think Navarre has turned a corner. He’s moved on from my easy goofy puppy to a pushy teenager. A LOUD teenager, I was about going deaf.


So, yeah, this trial definitely proved that Navarre has reached a new phase, and he’s pushy and loud and has discovered that not collecting is way more fun than that silly collecting business. The question is how to proceed. I’m sensing this was not a good time to suddenly do two back to back weekends full of agility. We were back to just working obstacle performance today, forget actually getting through the course. And he gets SASSY when you have to bring him back to attempt the weaves for the THIRD TIME. I thought maybe I had an unrealistic idea about tight he can run after running Bright, but he’s just on his own agenda these days. Time to start a new plan with Navarre, which includes coming into me when I call and actually collecting if I’m standing still facing him using his collection verbal. Dork. Navarre’s results from today: 1 for 4, and those three NQs were not even a little close.


I did get Bright and Haku a massage, but I didn’t Navarre. Would not be a bad idea, I’m still paranoid after his injury from being adjusted at the chiropractor. He seems to be moving very well, as far as I can tell. Just not always in the direction I would like. As for Haku, he found the massage very strange and wasn’t sure what to make of it all. Maddy also recommended working on stretching the skin on his abdomen to make sure his scare doesn’t adhere to anything or get twisted. He’s still doing better, and was happy to be at the trial for a bit – though bummed he didn’t get to do anything. Bright had a little tightness in her front shoulder, which is common for her. Glad to get her worked on.


A lovely day, I appreciated the great weather we had. A long day at the trial, and I was somewhat tempted to bail to go to the big cat show at the expo center – but I persevered. Overall, despite Navarre’s dorkiness, we had a good day. We’ll see how tomorrow goes …



Happy to report that after Haku was able to start doing more running again his use of his back leg is dramatically better. He can still be three legged in the house, but not all the time and when he’s in motion he’s using it so much more. Fingers crossed that he will make a full recovery, I was not optimistic when he was going on two weeks three legged, but it seemed all he really needed was to run around like a lunatic. You know, his natural state. Sutures are out, incision looks good, he’s feeling good, moving a lot better – I’m thinking we made it through another crisis this year. Whew.


I even ended up taking Haku to obedience this week, and while we didn’t do anything too crazy, he was so happy to play with some heeling and low key things. The funny part is he actually jumps ‘better’ at the moment, such as into the car, as he knows he can’t just launch from 12 feet away so I don’t have to do all the crazy lining up and preparation to get him in safely at the moment. I’m sure that will change.

I left in some video of the dogs running around in-between exercises in the beginning this practice video, which I always find amusing anyway – but look at Haku go!


And it’s finally starting to feel more like winter, I waffled on taking the dogs hiking today, as I think Haku could have done an abbreviated hike – but that wind was cold and it was a good excuse to snuggle in instead. So happy to have my Haku back sleeping on the bed again, he’s always curled up right next to me. Usually with Fizban on top of him. Still can’t believe that Thanksgiving is next week though, bring on the holiday cheer. I hear it’s supposed to be another cold, snowy and icy winter though – hm.


I did practice with the dogs a couple times this week, trying to get through things cleanly in preparation for our next two weekends of trials attempting to qualify Bright for nationals. This sort of thing just never goes well. I can’t say we did a whole lot of ‘doing it right the first time’. But the obstacle performance looked good, so, that’s something. Discovered that Navarre does not know what ‘come’ means in agility, could not get him to come into me to save my life. Until I tried to get him to go take an obstacle off his running dogwalk and he WOULD NOT GO FORWARD. So, heh, still a baby. And ever so wide, good lord. Which I’m somewhat ambivalent about, as I do think a lot of that is just who he is, and it’s something we COULD work on, but it’s not fun – and he’s having a good time. He knows where he’s going, he’s not throwing his body around, he’s just wide – so, hey, who am I to argue?


Hm, Thanksgiving is NEXT week. Gah.


River we did not see today!

Puppies and Haku

Haku’s incision looks great, he’s feeling good, he’s back on his normal food and he’s bored as hell. So now we have a problem, I have a three legged dog that sucks at being ‘just a pet’. He gets nutty and OCD and he NEEDS to have something to keep him normal. Assuming they just hit a nerve, hopefully he will eventually recover – but apparently it’s a very slow process (and he may never be totally ‘healed’). Right now he’s not really using it all. The good news, he gets around pretty darn well with three legs. I think he’ll still be able to go the park, the field and hiking and pogostick it along. Resting him will not help the healing process, and certainly wouldn’t be good for the rest of him.


So what to do with three legged Haku, assuming this is going to be a long term issue? I mean, technically he COULD still work on obedience, at least without jumps. Obviously he couldn’t compete, and may never be able to again (no lame dogs allowed). There’s always nosework, which, I’ll admit, I have never been able to find much enthusiasm for. But I never had a dog that couldn’t do more physical activities. Maybe I would really like it once I got into it – it’s certainly CRAZY popular. He’d probably be a good therapy dog, but after looking into that I realized I’d make a terrible therapy dog handler. We could try playing with the ‘Do as I Do’ stuff, which seems really novel.¬†We could still herd, I think, but he needs something to work on more often than that.


Haku is only 8, I had expected us to be able to play with obedience for quite some time. Maybe I can just be more creative, hide his meals around the house and other puzzle games throughout the day. I need a plan though, a concrete schedule and habits we can get into so he gets all the mental stimulation he needs.


Though the right motivation for doing lots novel things is coming along, going to do a little puppy raising for Karen for a few months.


This adorable girl is Bright’s niece out of her sister Glee. They both were nieces to London, so nice to think there a little connection there. This puppy looks more like her dad, Speck, I haven’t met him, he’s a herding dog. And speckly. This puppy will have lots of freckles!

Mama Glee:


This is a young Glee when she was with Gabrielle:

She does have The Drama, like Bright, so I’ll be curious to see if this puppy is also full of Drama. Time will tell.



This is a young Speck in herding:

In videos girl puppy does not seem like a troublemaker, but still seems fun. The plan would be to raise her for a few months until she seems ready to send back down to Karen. All the fun of a puppy, none of the lifelong commitment. Of course, some puppies are more difficult than others, but I’m hoping she’ll be an easy one to integrate into the household.

I think the dogs will be okay with this, it’s a border collie and a puppy, and she doesn’t seem like a hellion. Haku will ignore her, Navarre will play with her and Bright will have someone to boss around. Dragon will not be thrilled, but he rarely is. My goals are for her not to destroy my pretty house and pretty yard – the BCs have really spoiled me. But then, she IS related to Bright, so hopefully she’ll be easy.

Puppies do force you to get out and about, so hopefully this will make sure Haku gets out and goes to new places too. Winter puppies have their good and bad, but the nice part is that she’ll be able to go everywhere since it won’t be too hot to leave her in the car.


More cute pictures Karen took of her today, they’re six weeks old now, so she’ll be coming up to join us in a couple weeks. It’s good timing as I’ll be winding down classes before winter break, and then I’ll have a lot of time to spend with her.


Oh, need to think of a good girl names. Girl names are so much harder than boy names. Anne had a good one, ‘Pippi’, for Pippi Longstocking. I also liked ‘Summer’, but she doesn’t strike me as a Summer. Then there was ‘Aja’, who is both a goddess of the forest and also of the sun, depending on what religion you ask. We shall see. Bright was named because Karen was originally sending me a red merle and that seemed like a good name for a colorful dog. Still, it stuck to dark little Bright and it suits her very well!


1 Year in Hubbard

Crazy to think it’s been a year since I moved out here. In some ways it’s been a very long year, in others not so much. Mostly just been putting one foot in front the other, doing what needs to be done and trying not to think about things too much. The divorce should be finalized very soon, and it’s been such a long process I feel like I’ve been living in limbo, well, for a long time. With the end in sight been finally starting to think more about everything that has happened.

So much loss, leaving behind so many things, not the least of which is the animals – I miss them so. Fenwick and Eva especially, the border collies have been remarkably easy in the transition, but Fenny and Eva were always the party, the troublemakers, the demanders. I know they’re being well taken care of, but so hard not to be there for Fenwick – he’s 17 and a half now. It was still the right choice for everyone, but I’m finally starting to grieve for the loss of everything in my old life.


There is a good in everything though, and hopefully Bruce is happy with his new life and we are happy in Hubbard. The transition from country to ‘city’ life was remarkably easy because the border collies are so adaptable and, well, such good dogs. Thankfully quiet too, which was a big worry of mine moving into a neighborhood. They love the park and the field, and my worries about not having enough yard was relieved – the border collies don’t do much back there at all, they save it up for when they can really run.

Still, the three BCs have become such good friends and obviously we’ve become quite the tight little family. I miss the other dogs so much, and not having any old dogs is very weird after having such a spread of ages for so long. Eventually this crew will get older, but, for now, it was nice to have relatively young and healthy dogs that could go everywhere with me this past year.


So much learned over the past year – but maybe not really processed. It’s been a year of learning about Heather most of all, who it is I really am, what I like, what I want to do, who is really there for me. It’s been a hard year for me and for so many people around me, I’m ever hopeful that 2018 will be better. But maybe not, as that’s just life, good and bad – shit happens. To expect otherwise is foolish, it’s learning to deal with it in a constructive way.

Time to grieve and let things go and look forward to the new. With so many crazy changes in my life and just the culture and political crap around me, I’ve lost a lot of my natural optimism and faith in the goodness of others. But it’s still there, just needing a little bit of support, I hope.


So, yeah, all that has been going on, as life usually does. And I’m so thankful to have the animals to help keep perspective and make me smile – I do just adore my little furry crew. And as so many people have lost beloved pets recently, it helps keep Haku’s latest drama in check. He’s recovering so well from the obstruction, the incision looks great, eating and feeling good. Well, mostly. They think they hit a nerve with an injection and he’s three legged – and has gotten worse, almost not using his back rear leg at all at this point. The theory is that he should improve, but it’s coming up a week and a half and it’s only getting worse. We went back to the vet on Wednesday, but the vet still thinks time should improve him.

Still, they don’t actually know why he’s limping, they’re just guessing as when he woke up from the surgery he was knuckling over. As he’s hopping around three legged I’ll admit I kind of assume he’s not going to get better. Still, he gets around quite well on three legs. Hopefully he will improve, I’m just glad he’s okay. Perspective.

You can hear him barking in protest in this video, as he got to come along to classes last night as the vet wants to try adding more activity to see if that helps with the leg, as everything with the incision looks really good. He VERY much enjoyed getting to do some light activity – and a lot of barking.


Haku’s Surgery

We had quite the week around here, Haku spent most of the week at the vet, ending up with exploratory surgery for a stomach obstruction. Turns out he had eaten a cat toy, a small real fur covered square. I’m blaming Dragon, as he likes to take the cat toys out of the cat room and spread them around the house. Which had never been a huge issue, the dogs had chewed these up before, but, yeah, if you swallow one whole they’re just the right size to plug up your dog.


So I feel like an ass, Haku’s somewhat odd behavior at the obedience trial last weekend was probably because he just didn’t feel well. He started throwing up on Monday, spent the day at the vet on Tuesday. After xrays and exam they sent him home not finding anything, but I brought him back on Wednesday as he was clearly not feeling well. He had the surgery Wednesday night and recovered at the vet until he came home on Friday afternoon.


The good news is that he’s doing great, on 6 different medications at the moment and one heck of a big ugly stapled incision on his stomach – but he’s happy and playful and wanting to do so much more than he’s allowed to. I’m also very thankful that my vet was able to take care of him all week and do the surgery after hours. They got lots of donuts and a thank you card, they took good care of my boy.


So hard to have Haku not feeling well in the first place, as he’s just NEVER sick. Then being at the vet away from us for so long and of course worrying what could happen. I’m thankful that so many dogs I know have had some sort of obstruction surgery, as I know in general everyone has turned out okay. Just tried to stay calm and assume he would be just fine – and, knock on wood, he’s doing great.


Hopefully just a freak thing that will never happen again, but at least for once my paranoid vet visit was actually justified. Feeling very thankful to have everyone home and healthy, and hope to keep it that way.


Check out my beautiful new quilt! Anne made it and the animals all adore it as well – isn’t it amazing?

And guess who is a year old … finally! I swear Rico seemed like perpetual puppy, but somewhere along the line he finally grew up to be a big handsome boy!